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Fortifying Your Home Against Digital Burglars


Fortifying Your Home Against Digital Burglars

Home Security: Defending Against Hackers



Our digital home security tools are not as reliable as we want to believe they are. When I mean digital home security tools, I mean your Wi-Fi cameras, smart locks, and your garage door system. Don’t get me wrong, these are nice elements to our layered home security plan, but they can be defeated which we’ve known for a long time. 


Hacking Your Garage Door


First, let’s talk about your garage door. In simple terms, your clicker is a transmitter that when you push the button a signal is sent to the receiver at the motor that raises the door. Garage doors don’t use the same signal over and over. As a security measure, they use what’s called a rolling code.


A rolling code uses an algorithm to provide a new code for the garage door that’s in a range of codes that are predetermined by the manufacturer.


It’s like getting a new key for your front door every time you want to open your front door.  This is great so that people can’t capture your one code and then use it against you. Of course, it’s pretty easy to break your car window in a parking lot and steal the clicker. So there are some less technical ways of getting past the largest door on your home. 


Now the technology exists that can scan for and duplicate your rolling code for your garage door.  In fact, out of the box, a Flipper Zero can be programmed to become a spare garage door clicker. There are tons of videos about it on YouTube if you’re interested. 


Home Security: The Secure Dad's Guide

But with some tweaking a Flipper Zero can become a tool for a brute force attack that can open a garage door using software like KeeLoq. Then you can clone a remote and use the Flipper as you would a regular garage door opener. These tools have existed for a long time, but the Flipper Zero is the hot new tool right now, so this stuff is getting a lot of attention. But the takeaway for you right now is that your garage door can be opened by other people.


Jamming Home Security Cameras


Now let’s talk about your wi-fi cameras. Regardless of the brand of wi-fi camera you have, there’s a good chance that it runs on the  2.4 gigahertz frequency. This is an older frequency and some systems will run on both 2.4 and 5.0 gigahertz.


In September of 2022, I did a podcast on wi-fi jammers being used on wi-fi security cameras.

These attacks didn't jam the cameras themselves, but they disrupted the frequency at which they worked. 


In simple terms, think of it as a water hose. The spigot is the camera, the nozzle is the data hub and the hose is the 2.4 frequency. A deauth attack on the 2.4 frequency is like tying a knot in the hose. The water is trying to flow out, but it can’t go anywhere because the hose isn’t allowing it. Your cameras will function, but the data going through them will be jammed, making them useless. 


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Hacking Home Smart Locks 


Lastly, let’s talk about smart locks. There are deadbolt locks that run on wi-fi, Bluetooth, or Z-wave. These locks can be opened with a smartphone or a fob without having to input the code or using a key. The technology is very cool, but as you can guess, there are some real security issues.


Common criminals won’t carry the equipment they need to hack a smart lock, so let’s keep that in perspective.  But hacking a smart lock can be done. It may not be as fast as it happens in the movies, but it can be done. I don’t know about you, but someone creating a key for my door without having to touch it or get too close is alarming, to say the least.


Protecting Your Smart Home From Hackers


Now that we’ve established the problems, let’s work through some solutions. For the garage door, you can install a deadbolt lock on it. This will require its own manual key that you’ll have to lock and unlock when you want to use it.


Another consideration is putting your garage door motor on a smart plug. Keep in mind that your garage door can’t be hacked if it’s powered off. Using an app on your phone, you can turn the plug on and off when you want to come and go.


Before you leave, power on the smart plug, tap your opener to open the door, then back out into your driveway, close the door, and finally turn off the smart plug so the motor and receiver are powered off. While I know these solutions are not convenient, they will work against a digital attack.


While a hacker might be able to get in your garage, if the door between the garage and the house is locked, you’re doing good. If that same door has a FlipLok on it, you’re doing great. 


Family Home Security Assessment

Protecting Your Home Security Cameras from Hackers


For your home security cameras, like Blink and Ring, I don’t have a solution for you yet. What I suggest is using a camera with a local hard drive as a backup to your main cameras. This local camera won’t be on wifi, so you’ll have to manually check the footage on an SD card or USB drive. 


A good solution for this is a light bulb camera. Place one of these in the fixture on your porch to cover your front door and video doorbell. If someone jams your doorbell, the light bulb camera will still record to the SD card that you can check later.

  

Of course not having your camera system on wi-fi is a big advantage against hackers. A wired system has tons of benefits, but they are generally more expensive and require professional installation. 


Smart Lock Home Security Solutions


As for smart locks, my advice is to avoid them. Yes, they are cool and are mostly safe to use. But the technology and skills to hack one are becoming more and more common every day.


You can also argue that this is not different from picking the lock, but if someone is going to pick my lock, I want them to be physically at my door instead of down the street or remotely halfway around the world. I get bad vibes from these things. 


Conclusion: Fortifying Your Home Against Digital Burglars


At the end of the day, home defense is physical. Yes, Wi-Fi gadgets make it easier and more fun, but what is going to protect your home is locked doors, security lighting, secondary locks, and a proactive approach to fortification. Humans will have to physically be able to get into your home to rob it, so meet them where they are with real, physical defenses. 


Enjoy my Home Security Quick Reference for free. This guide will get you started on your journey to upgrading your home security.


Watch the video of Fortifying Your Home Against Digital Burglars


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Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.

 

Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

 

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